Sunday 17 November 2019
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Interstellar – movie review by Anne Brodie

Written by Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain

Rating 4/5

Christopher Nolan’s sophisticated artistic sensibilities are informed by technology, cosmology creativity and exploration. They are uniquely modern. The Dark Knight, Inception and Memento highlight his desire to break the conventional mould and go where no one has gone before. He’s shown us things we’ve never seen in films before.  His ideas are profoundly original.

Interstellar is original but also surprisingly familiar, Nolan’s most accessible film in a while. The story of a former pilot turned farmer (McConaughey), sent to space to find habitable planets for human life – earth is dying – is steeped in science. But it lives equally in the human experience, particularly in his family and the natural world he leaves behind.

I like Nolan’s stark look at heroism.  A man with unique abilities is called away to serve, wrenched from the things he loves for an undetermined time, maybe forever, who then actually leaves. He’s an environmental and humanitarian hero, but to his children he is monster who abandoned them and broke their spirit.

Climate change has done its worst earth. We have done our worst to earth.  It’s covered in dust that smothers the crops, there’s no food and no expectation of recovery.  NASA scientists are underground experimenting with various solutions, but know there are no answers on this planet.

They’re sending seekers to space to break through worm holes and black holes to reach a new galaxy, to explore planets for suitability for humans and grow new human communities with frozen embryos. In thirty years each community will have a few hundred inhabitants. The best laid plans…

The dark secret is that NASA has no plans to save any humans currently on earth.  That darkness is reflected in the pilot’s daughter’s emotional journey from abandonment and despair to finally partnering with the man who sent her father into space (Michael Caine).  The darkness of the traveller is found in a flier who made it to the new galaxy earlier (Matt Damon).

Elements of Greek mythology are found in the characters, the journeys and the struggles that are big and important, suitable only for most gifted.  But gifted doesn’t always mean willing to sacrifice. One hero looks for the new, the other clings to the old. It’s what people do.

Regarding the film’s visual effects, they’re vivid and spectacular and cannot be adequately described. The planets in the new galaxies are creatively different yet familiar, beautiful and ugly, habitable but not habitable. They have their own histories and realities and have no interest in being colonised by the US of A.

The score and soundtrack is larger than life, with plenty of heavy, pounding organ music that sounds like Sunday morning in church ramped way up.  The bass is so visceral it shook my pant leg. I thought it was a mouse.  A big one.  And there are shattering moments in space with no sound, the “absence of sound”.   

Interstellar not perfect or even close, but it’s a complex mix of yin and yang via 2001: Space Odyssey and farm noir.

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